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Bristol West Auto Insurance Review 2021

Jan. 4, 2021
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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  • Offers car insurance for high-risk drivers.
  • Has far more than the expected number of complaints to state regulators, relative to its size, for auto insurance.
  • Can file an SR-22 form if you need one.

Bristol West provides auto insurance for high-risk drivers through a network of agents and brokers in 42 states. It’s part of Farmers Insurance, one of the nation’s 10 largest car insurance companies.

You can also buy Bristol West auto insurance policies through Foremost Insurance, another Farmers brand.

Bristol West auto insurance

3.5 NerdWallet rating

Bristol West auto insurance earned 3.5 stars out of 5 for overall performance. NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account pricing and discounts, ease of filing a claim, website transparency, financial strength, complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and more.

Bristol West offers liability auto insurance and other state-required coverage types. In addition, the company offers comprehensive and collision coverage, plus typical add-ons such as roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement.

Other Bristol West options include:

  • SR-22 and FR-44 availability. Many states require an SR-22 form to prove you have insurance after a DUI or other serious violation. In Florida and Virginia, you may need an FR-44 form to prove you have enough coverage.
  • Gap insurance. If you owe more on your loan or lease than your policy will pay when your car is totaled or stolen, Bristol West’s gap insurance will cover the difference, minus your deductible.
  • Rideshare coverage. If you drive for a service such as Uber or Lyft, rideshare insurance for drivers covers you while you’re waiting for ride requests. Rideshare companies’ policies only cover you while you’re en route to pick up passengers or they’re in your car, leaving a coverage gap between rides.

Auto insurance discounts from Bristol West

Car insurance discounts from Bristol West vary by state. Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for discounts for:

  • Insuring more than one car.
  • Having an additional policy, such as a motorcycle or RV policy from Foremost.
  • Paying for your policy in full, upfront.
  • Making electronic payments.
  • Owning a home.
  • Not having a vehicle in your household. Non-owner car insurance provides liability coverage when you drive a car that isn’t yours, such as a rental.
  • Avoiding accidents and traffic violations.
  • Being covered for at least 6-12 months with a previous insurer.
  • Getting policy documents by email.
  • Installing a tracking device to help locate your car if it’s stolen.
  • Being 55 or older and completing a driver improvement course.
  • Buying a policy at least two days before it takes effect, with no lapse in coverage.

» MORE: Compare car insurance rates

Complaints about Bristol West

Relative to its size, Bristol West has far more than the expected number of complaints to state insurance regulators, according to three years’ worth of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

More about Bristol West

Website: Bristol West’s website lets you take action but offers no details on coverage options. Directly from Bristol West’s homepage, you can request a quote, find an agent, see your insurance ID card, make a payment and report or check on a claim. An FAQ page explains how to get text alerts when payments are due or overdue.

Mobile app: On Bristol West’s mobile app, you can pay premiums, view your ID card and see the details of your policy. It’s available for Apple and Android devices.

Payment options: If you pay online, you can use a bank account, debit card or credit card at no extra cost. You can also set up automatic monthly payments or pay by phone, by mail, or by Western Union or MoneyGram. Payments can be made once or twice a year, quarterly, or monthly, with discounts for paying larger amounts upfront.

Recap: Bristol West pros and cons

Can get an SR-22 if you need oneFar more than the expected number of complaints about auto insurance to state regulators
Many payment optionsLikely not the best option for drivers who aren’t high risk
Available in most states

Auto insurance ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s auto insurance ratings reward companies for customer-first features and practices. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including financial strength, consumer complaints and discounts. Our “ease of use” category looks at factors such as website transparency and how easy it is to file a claim. Using our editorial discretion, we also consider customer satisfaction surveys. These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

Methodology: Insurer complaints

NerdWallet examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2018-2020. To assess how insurers compare to one another, the NAIC calculates a complaint index each year for each subsidiary, measuring its share of total complaints relative to its size, or share of total premiums in the industry. To evaluate a company’s complaint history, NerdWallet calculated a similar index for each insurer, weighted by market shares of each subsidiary, over the three-year period. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.

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